Friday, 9 May 2014

Woking to Fleet via Greywell

We took a bus from Bridge Barn to Woking station, and walked to the Coign, a church that meets in the H G Wells Centre.  A good welcome, good worship, good talk.

Worship at the Coign

Had lunch in a pub, then walked back via the decorated boats assembled at the town quay.

Boats on display at Woking Town Quay

Drink in Bridge Barn plus nibbles back on board.  The Morso Squirrel now stays in overnight, thanks to Mick's new thermostat.

From Bridge Barn in Woking we had a hard days locking on Monday, with weed, leaves and submerged objects slowing down the party of seven boats. We brought up the rear with Petronella. We left at 0830, and arrived at Mytchett at 1815 (22 locks).

Doreen C, with Petronella in the background

 Sharing locks with Petronella

It was beautiful weather, which made up for the physical challenge.  It was great to see ex-MasterSun friends Alan and Jo Purusram and family whom we haven't seen for fourteen years. They joined us at lock 28 for a ride to Mytchett and a meal at Potters.

Alan and Jo

Tuesday 6th May

Mytchett to Tundry Pond

Sunny.  Water and loo before setting off. We seemed to be the first except for Petronella who had left early. 

We had a log on the propeller blade, and needed Bargee Bills prop cleaner to get it off.  We found Petronella at Ash Wharf, where we stopped to visit Budgens for milk etc.

As we left, Doreen C was coming into view, so we shared Ash Lock with them. We let them go first as they are faster than we are.

We were pleased to have a few inches clearance at Wharf Bridge. Our headroom must be about 5ft 7” as the bridge is 5ft 10”.

We stopped for lunch at bollards by Eelmoor Bridge, at the end of the Farnborough runway, where there were several planespotters.

We curved our way through Fleet without stopping, clearing the two remaining low bridges.  Our first boat had about ½” clearance here, and our second boat may not have got through – we never had the opportunity to get up here, so we’ll never know.

Evidence of badger activity in the banks on both sides just after Cookham Wharf.

The woods near the swing bridge were beautiful.  The bridge is called Cookham swing bridge in the old map I have, but Nicholson calls it Zebon Copse Swing bridge. It needs a CRT key, and unusually the bollards are on the off side, away from the towpath, making it much easier for single handed boaters.

 The beautiful Basingstoke Canal

There are lots of remains of World War II defences, with concrete posts and pillboxes in evidence

WWII defences

We passed Doreen C at Chequers Bridge, and moored on the off side, overlooking Tundry Pond, where we moored with Lystra in 2000.  Hugo caught his first mouse of the trip.

Doreen C went past later.

1 lock, 11 miles, 1 swing bridge, 1 mouse  4hr55

Wednesday 7th May

Tundry Pond to Greywell to Barley Mow.

Bluebells near Tundry Pond

A 9am start was followed by careful negotiation of the landslip that caused the navigation to be closed last year.  There is still a lot of work to be done to clear all the fallen trees and slipped earth. On my map from our last visit, I had marked badger setts in this area.  Did they help to cause the landslip?

Creeping stealthily past the landslip at Dogmersfield

We passed several places where we spotted the blue-green algae which is toxic. We had been warned about this. 

At Odiham Wharf we stopped to search for the elsan point which we had used before, but it has gone. A JCB had been digging a trench where the place had been. The water point also looked unusable. There is no elsan point marked further up than Ash Lock on the leaflet they gave us.  Galleon Marine was wall to wall boats so there was no way of getting in there to ask.

We went on to the end, using the lift bridge (electrically operated with CRT key), and we turned and moored by King John’s Castle. Although the water was very clear, we saw very few fish.  We heard cuckoos and saw swallows.

King John's Castle at Odiham

We walked to the tunnel and noticed that everything was very much more overgrown, with young trees between the path and the canal.

Greywell Tunnel entrance
Beautiful blossom at Greywell

Going back through the lift bridge

After a sandwich we started the journey back, meeting Petronella after a mile.  We stopped at the Barley Mow, where we are due to meet Joy tomorrow.  Thatwey and Hazell Nut went past.

We tried the TV but the signal was poor, so we watched a DVD (K-PAX).  Hugo caught two mice.

0 locks, 9 miles, 2 lift bridges (same one twice), 2 mice 3hr40

Thursday 8th May

At Barley Mow Bridge. Heavy rain intermittently.

Joy Sayer came to see us mid morning.  Lovely to see her again.  Just lost her husband John three weeks ago. Thankfully she is cheerful and positive.

Pub meal at lunchtime.  They serve Old Rosie cider on draft, and devote a whole page of the menu to bangers and mash choices.

Hazell Nut and Thatwey had arrived by the time we returned.

Lots of rain today, so no boating.

Getting a bit worried about our diesel supplies, and our loo capacity, as facilities are very limited here.  We don't want our diesel to run out, but we want the tank as empty as possible so that the rest can be drained when we get back to Byfleet.

Decided to be sociable and go for a meal in the pub with the others at 7pm.  Nachos and a pudding.  Discovered during conversation (as you do!) that the elsan point was still there at Odiham after all.

No boating today
Friday 9th May

Barley Mow back to Odiham and on to Fox and Hounds

Despite a dry forecast, there were one or two heavy rain showers.  We decided to go back to Odiham to empty our cassettes, so we turned in the winding hole and headed back upstream.

We saw a greater spotted woodpecker amongst the trees.

When we arrived at Odiham wharf, Yum Sing was there, and Ian was emptying cassettes and filling up his water tank.  We turned and pulled in behind him. Apparently Betty was at work and he was waiting there until she joined him.

While we were dealing with our cassettes, John Pinkerton II reversed under the bridge and tied up behind us.  James went to have a shower while Hazel was given a guided tour of the new boat.  A party from Hampshire Council, including the mayor, arrived for a trip, just as we left. 

David Ward rang and suggested we come for lunch instead of an evening meal. By now it was 1100, and we had at least two hours to go.

We soon caught up a trip boat for the disabled called Dawn, which was going   v--e--r--y     s--l--o--w--l--y .  Thankfully they pulled in to the side to let us pass, which we did.  Hazel ran the washing machine as we travelled, so that we could get a full tank at the Barley Mow water point.

Arriving at the Barley Mow, Petronella was just leaving, so we moored up in their place, near the tap. Dawn went past. It took 15 minutes to fill the tank, and then we set off again.

We soon caught up with Dawn, which was still going   v-e-r-y     s-l-o-w-l-y.  We saw also that Petronella was in front going just as slowly.  Petronella pulled in to let both boats pass, and just beyond Chequers Bridge, Dawn pulled into the winding hole where they were planning to moor, so we passed.   We were able to put on some speed then, and when we arrived at the swing bridge, Petronella was nowhere in sight, so we went through on our own.  We arrived at the Fox and Hounds at 1315, and we called David Ward.

David came by car to collect us as there was too much wind for Owl and Pussycat.  We had a lovely lunch at the Ward’s home. David took us back via a garage where we bought two 5 litre diesel cans, which we filled for the boat, in case we got low.

Several boats now in place for tomorrow’s festival.  Supper on board.  Hugo locked in as we are two boats out and there is a road close by.

0 locks, 8 miles, 1 swing bridge, 3hr40

Saturday 10th May

Fox and Hounds Rally

Despite being the 25th birthday celebration for the BCBC, there were only four boats apart from the Byfleet Boat Club: a small dinghy with an outboard, a steam boat, Doreen C, and a trip boat (Dawn).  BBC had six narrowboats.  Just as well we were there.

The pub was running a BBQ in a marquee, so we had a chicken kebab. There was a guitarist playing songs in a minor key accompanied by a drummer.  There were some ladies morris dancers later on.

Fox and Hounds rally

David and Doreen came to visit and had coffees on board Gabriel.  There were some heavy showers alternating with sunshine. There was a strong wind and it was fairly cold.  We were awarded a certificate for achieving the 22 lock challenge. 

There were some other announcements and a birthday cake which we missed because we were on board. There was no programme of events, so no-one knew what was happening next.

BBC all went for a meal at the Fox and Hounds, which was excellent.  Good conversation until the band started up, very loud. They were good musicians, but the volume was too much.

No boating today

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